Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Personal Business Planning: Planning & Goal Setting Ideas

2011: another 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 52,600 minutes 3,153,600 seconds of opportunity, experience, growth and possibilities.

What makes this the most wonderful time of the year is blue sky thinking and planning for the year ahead. Planning starts with setting goals.

Setting goals affects outcomes in four ways:

1. Choice: goals narrow attention and direct efforts to goal-relevant activities, and away from perceived undesirable and goal-irrelevant actions.

2. Effort: goals can lead to more effort; for example, if one closes 4 deals per month, and has the goal of closing 6, one may work more intensely than one would otherwise in order to reach the goal.

3. Persistence: An individual becomes more prone to work through setbacks if pursuing a goal.

4. Cognition: goals can lead an individual to develop cognitive strategies to change their behavior.

Locke et al. (1981) examined the behavioral effects of goal-setting, concluding that 90% of laboratory and field studies involving specific and challenging goals led to higher performance than did easy or no goals.

All the more reason to set goals! Goals need a plan...a map of sorts of how you get from an idea to action.

Here are some general topics to include in your personal business plan. These topics will vary depending on your livelihood, industry and your imagination. If you use these as a starting point, you should be able to build a frame work for goals and a plan to achieve those goals. Things to think about:
  • What is your dream job?
  • What motivates you? Money? Recognition? Goals? Stuff? Looking good in the eyes of others? Avoiding looking bad in the eyes of others? Competition? A long term vision?
  • How much money do you want to make?
  • Personal Development - learning a new skill, running a marathon, better health, volunteering etc
  • What are you good at? How would people describe you at home or at work. What could use improvement on?
  • Who do you see yourself being?
  • If money was no object, what would you do with your life?
One of the more interesting company goal setting events I have attended was at Enunciate. The owner rented a theatre and we watched "The Secret". Whatever you take away from that concept, it really helped many of my colleagues think or dream. Funny as adults that we forget how to dream. Part of the exercise was to create a vision board and to list out what you want from life.

"Whatever the mind can conceive it can achieve"  W. Clement Stone

This included a list of what you want and you can add pictures to help cement your vision. It also included a list of what you have to be thankful for. Of the 14 items on my list of what I wanted from 2007, I have had 7 of them come to fruition. It's good to be able to know what you set out to do and that you can do it. Quite frankly, some of the things I achieved I did not believe were possible. But ideas keep you focused and with focus you can create action.

Once you have ideas or goals, the next step is about creating an executable plan which is a commitment to yourself. Like all commitments, they have better days than others but in the end, you still have to stay on the path. I prefer weekly plans rolled up into monthly objectives. For example, if there are 16 awake hours in a day, rough out what hours are spoken for and how much time you have for achieving your goals. In the end, something has to give so it is important to prioritize.

Weekly time blocks may include:

Work/Job: 5 days a week X 8 hours a day
Commuting: 5 days a week X 1 hour a day
Gym:  3 days a week X 1.5 hours (includes work out, clean up and commuting)
Dinner: 7 days a week X 1 hour includes Food Prep, cooking, eating & clean up

So far we are at 56.5 hours out of a possible 112 hours. This leaves approximately 50% of your awake hours for so much more!

The trick is to watch for leakage. What steals your time? Goals will keep you on course. That and time blocking but that is another discussion.
The next step is to outline your year long goals or commitments: Spending more time with family, commitments to physical and mental health, doing something that makes you happy. This must be specific. Don't leave it loose or open to interpretation. For example, 50% of what I eat in a day will be vegetables. Spend one hour a week playing a game with my kids. I will arrange a date night with my significant other once a month whether it's convenient or not. I will pack my lunch once a week and save my money for something important to me.

One you have decided how much time a week you are going to dedicate to achieving your goals, the next step is rolling that up into a monthly plan. For example, I am going to spend 4 hours a month learning a new skill. I am going to save $X amount of money this month toward a goal. Open a savings account. The monthly frame gives you a chance to catch up on something you may have missed during your weekly commitments. I keep monthly goals as a note in my blackberry so I can look at them often.

You can layer in quarterly objectives or milestones to keep you on track. There is no fear of failure. If you miss the mark, you need to keep it in your line of site to achieve for the next month. Persistence to your commitment. 

So now you know what you want, you may have some ideas on how to get you where you want to go, now it's time to enlist the advice of others who can give you tips and short cuts. No reason to learn it all the hard way!

As you have a chance to catch your breath and look around over the next few days, start; Start putting down ideas, start thinking about what you want. Then expand on those ideas and make a plan. Could be Power Point. Could be a cocktail napkin. Could be a vision board. Embrace it and have some fun with it!

Happy New Year!


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